Yet the Ghanaians turned it around against the Uzbeks, with Dominic Adiyiah hitting the winner. A 4-0 thrashing of England, decorated by a brace from the same player and an Andre Ayew scorcher, followed. And a 2-2 draw with Uruguay sent Ghana into the Round of 16 as section winners. One-goal defeats of South Africa, Korea Republic and Hungary later and Ghana found themselves in the decider – one which they would begin as the overwhelming underdogs.
Ghana’s uphill challenge took an even steeper incline in the first half. They finished it having failed to register a shot on target and at a numerical disadvantage following defender David Addo’s dismissal.
Thereafter, Sellas Tetteh’s side were indebted to Daniel Agyei. The Liberty Professionals player produced save after save to deny the boys in canary-yellow, with a breathtaking stop from Maicon particularly standing out. After 120 minutes, Brazil had registered 26 shots, but not one of them had beaten Agyei.
It was on to a shootout. Both sides converted their first two penalties, but after Douglas Costa scored, Jonathan Mensah’s miss left Brazil 3-2 up. Agyei then repelled Souza’s effort, only for Rafael to follow suit and deny Bright Addae.
That left Maicon with the chance to win it for Rogerio’s team, but the Fluminense man skied his attempt. Adiyiah then kept his cool to take the shootout to sudden death and, after Agyei had enhanced his heroic performance by saving from Alex Teixeira, Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu slotted home to complete the unlikeliest of Ghanaian triumphs.
“There were times, especially during the shootout, when I thought Brazil would win,” admitted Adiyiah, who pocketed the adidas Golden Ball and adidas Golden Shoe as the tournament’s best player and top scorer respectively. “There were some people who thought it was all over when Bright missed.
“But we kept on fighting for it and we are champions now, thanks to some great saves from our goalkeeper. This keeper, he's great. I think he is our hero now. Today my dream has come true. I'm really happy. Glory be to God for giving us a great tournament!”
The conquest kick-started a fruitfut period for Ghanaian football. Agei, Samuel Inkoom, Mensah, Ayew and Adiyiah were part of the Black Stars squad which reached the following year’s FIFA World Cup™ quarter-finals, while Mohammed Rabiu and Agyemang-Badu ran out at Brazil 2014.